Seaview—A Dolce Resort, Bay Course
Final-round notes and interviews
June 20, 2010
New Rolex Rankings No. 1: According to unofficial LPGA projections, Ai Miyazato will be the new Rolex Rankings No. 1 come Monday morning, thanks to her win at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Sunday. She outran the field with a final-round, bogey-free, 7-under 64 punctuated by a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole that clinched the title, and No. 1. “When I started playing in the States, that's when I really started thinking about being No. 1, and that became a dream of mine, especially watching Annika and Lorena play,” she said. “And now that I am No. 1, I still can't believe it.”
This is Miyazato’s fourth win in nine LPGA events this year, her fifth overall, and she’s tightened her grip on the top of the 2010 money list. However, her goals for the year have yet to be reached: “Right now, being Player of the Year on this tour is my goal,” she said, also mentioning that “a major is my focus.”
Starting the day two shots back of second-round leader M.J. Hur, Miyazato needed some birdies to catch up. And she made them, early and often – she birdied the second, third, fifth and ninth to go out in 4-under 33, then the 10th, 14th and 18th. The 10-footer on 18 put the tournament away, as Hur, playing in the group behind Miyazato, had just birdied 16 and 17 to stay within two strokes. If Miyazato had parred 18, Hur could have eagled to force a playoff. “I saw her score that she made birdie on 16 and 17,” Miyazato said. “So after that I said to myself, ‘OK, I need one more swing, and I need to one more good putt.’
Hur said the closing barrage was more a matter of pride than putting pressure on Miyazato. “I saw the scoreboard on 16, and I was maybe tied for fourth, and I just wanted to finish second, so I tried to birdie the last three holes.”
Happy Birthday to Me, Myself and Ai! Miyazato wins one day after she turned 25. “I've won in Japan during my birthday week, too, but having done so in America I feel is more special,” she said in her post-tournament press conference Sunday.
Even though there is projected to be a new Rolex Rankings No. 1 Monday, the race is far from over. Entering this week, any one of six players could have ended up No. 1 Monday, and with No. 3 Suzann Pettersen finishing tied for fourth, No. 4 Cristie Kerr finishing tied for 22nd, No. 5 Yani Tseng finishing tied for 14th, and No. 6 Anna Nordqvist finishing tied for 12th, the race is sure to remain hotly contested at next week’s LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans, the LPGA’s second major of the year.
Although she faded from contention on the back nine with two bogeys in her final six holes, Paula Creamer, playing in her first event in four months due to thumb surgery, had things in perspective Sunday evening. “I mean, geez, if someone was going to say you're going to play in the lead group in your first tournament back out in (four months), I would take it in a heartbeat,” said Creamer, who shot a final-round, even-par 71 to finish at 10-under and in seventh alone. “To have a chance to win on Sunday and to get those nerves out, to get back into that competitive mode on the last day is something that I would have been grateful for if somebody told me that last week. You know, I didn't win, but I played great.”
“My thumb is, it's feeling it. It's tired,” Creamer said. “This is a lot of golf for me that I haven't been able to do, and that's why we're out here, to know what I have to do. I have to kind of overcome this whole thing and take it tournament by tournament. And you know, going into next week, I feel pretty good considering what's happened. I can only take confidence away from this week going into a major.”
Not only did the race for Rolex Rankings No. 1 heat up this week, so did the race for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. Azahara Munoz, currently second in the race, shot a final-round, bogey-free, 5-under 66 to finish at 6-under, tied for 16th. Amanda Blumenherst, who’s leading the race, shot a final-round 67 that featured four straight birdies to finish at 4-under overall and in a tie for 22nd. Munoz, Blumenherst and the rest of the Class of 2010 will host the media at the Meet The Rookies event Tuesday afternoon at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans, an event that has been won by rookies the last two years.
For the second straight week, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb shot lights out in her closing round. At last week’s LPGA State Farm Classic, Webb closed with a 7-under 65. Sunday, she shot a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to finish tied for eighth. I think you sort of free up, which is the way you should be the whole week,” said the 36-time winner on playing Sunday. “You know you've got nothing to lose on the last day and you just try to go out there and be a bit more relaxed and see what you can do.”
Alas, it had to end sometime. With her tie for 22nd this week, Song-Hee Kim’s streak of consecutive top-10s ended at 10. It dates back to last November with her tie for sixth at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, the penultimate event of 2009.
Of note… With her seventh-place finish this week, Creamer eclipsed the $7 million mark in career earnings ($7,010,854).
MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody. We're going to do two interviews, questions in English first and then in Japanese. Welcome, Ai Miyazato. 2010 ShopRite LPGA Classic winner, your fifth win on Tour, your fourth this year, your first on American soil and you are projected to be No. 1 in the world announced tomorrow. Congratulations.
AI MIYAZATO: Thank you very much.
Q. Can you walk us through your round, please?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, I had such a good round today. I couldn't make birdie on the first hole, but I got a good start on second hole, I guess. Yeah. Second hole. And that kept the round going. Well, for some reason towards the end I was really tired. I think it was really hot out there, and the temperature makes me a little bothering me. But I could stay focused on the shot and I made birdie on the last one. That was great.
MODERATOR: Yes, it was the birdie on the last that really clinched it for you because M.J. Hur had a chance to make an eagle on the last, and that would have tied you. So that's what clinched it.
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah. I saw her score that she made birdie on 16 and 17. So after that I said to myself, okay, I need to one more swing and I need to one more good putt. So it was good self talk, and I was really stay in control of myself out there.
Q. Could you go over the birdie holes today?
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah. The second hole.
Q. The length of the birdie putt?
AI MIYAZATO: The second hole was five meters, and three, I had eagle putt like three meters, and five oh, birdie putt was three meters again. And nine was one meter, and 10 was quite long. It was nine meters, I think. And 14 was five meters, and 18 was three meters.
Q. How important was that birdie on 10, second shot and that birdie on 10 after you hit your tee shot in the bunker? That really seemed to jump start that whole Back 9.
AI MIYAZATO: Well, it was in the bunker, and then I thought the bunker was more wide, but it was actually really narrow, so I thought it was going to be really important not to be aggressive, and trying to get to the front of the green. But actually I had a really good shot, and the ball lie was really good. So that's why I could hit it into the green, and I made a birdie.
Q. What did you hit out of the bunker?
AI MIYAZATO: It was a 9 iron.
Q. M.J. Hur just said that your game is gorgeous.
AI MIYAZATO: (Laughs). Gorgeous?
Q. She said it's so simple when you're on. Can you talk about I guess when it's not on, I mean very rarely do you get a player who wins four times miss two cuts in a nine tournament stretch. What goes wrong and what was right today and this week?
AI MIYAZATO: Right. Last couple weeks I had I mean it's not "Big Break," but I started thinking about the world rank, because Jiyai had surgery last week and everyone kept asking about how close to being No. 1 you are. So that's why I started thinking, and it's a little bit makes it a little difficult like myself to concentrate. So I couldn't focus my swing or my game last week, so it makes it a little difficult. But earlier this week, I spoke with my caddie, and we had a really good talk about the world rank, and what I need to do to focus right now. So that's why I got so clear about this week and started again focus my swing and every single shot. (Through interpreter): When I'm missing the cuts emotionally, I'm not very clear inside, but then when I make the cut and playing very well, then that means I'm very well organized inside.
Q. Can you say what it means to you to be No. 1 in the world now? You talked earlier this week and said it was a process.
AI MIYAZATO: Yes.
Q. I mean
AI MIYAZATO: I'm saying a process, I guess, but well (through interpreter) Well, when I started playing in the States, that's when I really started thinking about being No. 1, and that became a dream of mine, especially watching Annika and Lorena play, and now that I am No. 1, I still can't believe it. But I do feel very comfortable.
Q. Ai, you played here in 2006 and led the tournament after two rounds. You kind of faltered the last round. Obviously today is a completely different story and all this year. What's the biggest difference between yourself a couple years ago and the way you're playing now?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, I have so many experience right now. I've got to do so many things last couple years. But when I played four years ago, I played with Annika in the last group, and that make me really nervous, and but right now I have confidence to play with my game, and (through interpreter) I have the confidence now that I didn't have back then, especially going through some of the or overcoming some of the trouble that I went through the last couple years.
Q. How is the way you manage your emotions or your game, what has changed the Back 9 on Sunday from Thailand to four wins later? Is it easier?
AI MIYAZATO: (Through interpreter): Well, it's not easy to control myself, but I believe in myself and the game right now, and I feel like no matter what the situation is or the pressure is, I feel like I can play my game right now.
Q. What day did you talk to your caddie, part A; and part B, what does this win and this day do for you going into the next major here?
AI MIYAZATO: We talked on Wednesday, I guess. Yeah, it was Wednesday, and after that I still have a couple of days and (through interpreter) a couple days after the talk we had, so that made it really clear for myself, and it's not just for this week, but we have some big tournaments coming up, and so the talk we had is very useful for those, and I feel we're prepared for this.
Q. What's your caddie's name?
AI MIYAZATO (through interpreter): Michael Seaborn, S E A B O R N.
Q. You told the crowd out there that you love this course. When I played here five weeks ago, I loved this course, too.
AI MIYAZATO: (Laughs). It's fantastic, this golf course.
Q. Yeah. Is there anything given Japan's an island nation, do you have something similar to this in Japan or no?
AI MIYAZATO: Not really similar.
Q. No courses there like this?
AI MIYAZATO: No. But I mean I love to play links style golf course. It's almost like feels like I'm playing in England. But anyway (through interpreter) I just love the atmosphere. There's trees, the bush. There's also the small greens, and you need a good short game.
Q. Two part: First, you've won everywhere in the world. Now you've won here in the United States. What does that mean to you? And I don't know if you noticed it, but there was a decent group of local Japanese fans that came out to follow you today. What does it mean to you to have wherever you go I'm sure local people coming out from your country to watch?
AI MIYAZATO (through interpreter): Yes. Having the local Japanese people come out, that really gives me a lot of energy, and at the same time for the people that come out, if I could give some of that energy back by playing very well, that's all I could ask for, and I'm hoping to do so, to the Japanese people that are worldwide.
Q. Yesterday you made us aware that it was your birthday. Was this a birthday present to yourself today?
AI MIYAZATO: Yes, it is. (Through interpreter): I've won in Japan during my birthday week, too, but having done so in America I feel is more special.
Q. Two part question. Are you a leaderboard watcher? As you go through your round, do you know exactly where you are or is it one shot at a time?
AI MIYAZATO: I watch the leaderboard everywhere, every hole. Yes.
Q. And second, you mentioned Annika and Lorena. So are you contemplating retirement? (Laughs).
AI MIYAZATO: Definitely not. A major is being my focus right now. But thank you for asking.
Q. Do you have plans to play more in the United States now or change your schedule?
AI MIYAZATO (through interpreter): Right now, being Player of the Year on this Tour is my goal, so I do want to play more on the U. S. Tour.
Q. I'm sure you get asked this all the time. The socks, are they comfortable? Were they comfortable today in 100 degree heat? Is that your trademark? Sometimes golfers have their look.
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah. It was pretty hot today. I thought maybe I got wrong message today. But these are compression socks as well, so it helps my muscles, and you won't get tired towards the end of the round. So it helps me a lot and (through interpreter) and if they can become my trademark, that would be great, too.
Q. Back to the 10th hole, what happened at 10? If you didn't have let's say when you didn't have the experience of winning and what you've been through the past couple years, is that the type of thing that might have rattled you a little bit, the drive in the bunker before you had the experience of winning?
AI MIYAZATO (through interpreter): Maybe it would have rattled me if I didn't have any experiences winning, but mistakes happen in golf. So I've learned to accept those misses and move on and always think positively.
Q. You mentioned that you were nervous playing with Annika when she was No. 1. Are you prepared for other players now to be nervous playing with you?
AI MIYAZATO (through interpreter): No, because around the Top 5 in the world right now, they're all very close points wise in the ranking, so everyone's wanting to become No. 1 as I was, and I'm not like Annika either.
Q. You started today two shots behind M.J., but I think the second hole or the third hole you were on top of the leaderboard. At that point are you sitting there saying to yourself, I'm going to win; you're that confident?
AI MIYAZATO (through interpreter): No, because all the other players are very close, maybe within a shot or two, and it's so unpredictable who was going to win, so I just started to concentrate on my game, and I didn't really think about going for the win at that point.
MODERATOR: M.J., welcome. We'll start it out just kind of give your thoughts overall on the week and on the finish.
M.J. HUR: You know, I finished second. I think it's good because I played good final round, but Ai, she played really good and did much better than me.
Q. You made those three birdies finishing up with three straight birdies. I mean what did you just find your swing at that point or what got you going, you know, the final three holes there?
M.J. HUR: I saw the scoreboard on 16. I was tied maybe fourth, and I just wanted to finish second, so I tried to make a birdie the last three holes, but, you know, the ball goes in. No. 16 I chipped it in, so that made me tied for second, and No. 17, that putt made me second. So I like it.
Q. Did you think that if I told you you had the score at the end of the round, did you think it would be good enough or did you foresee people walking you down the way that I did?
M.J. HUR: My goal was 4 under par today, so it made me 15 under par, but that's not enough. 16 under par. So I'm good with my score. I'm happy for my score today.
Q. This is the fourth time that Ai has won this year and she's the new No. 1. What are players saying about her game and just how she's kind of dominating right now?
M.J. HUR: I play with her in Sybase Match Play, second round. She's just gorgeous. She hits straight and has good putts, so I think she play really simple. I want to be playing that, too.
Q. Thoughts on the week.
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, definitely. I mean, gees, if someone was going to say you're going to play in the lead group in your first tournament back out in whatever, how many months, I would take it in a heartbeat. You know, the first thing that you're going to lose is your touch and your feel, and I struggled a bit with my wedges. It's just so hard for me to hit that high shot. My wrist and my thumb just doesn't want to flip it. All day today I struggled with keeping the ball on line. I kept pulling it, and that's my miss, is the compensation of my right arm. That's, without a doubt, that's coming from my hand. But you know, I take so many positives out of it. To have a chance to win on Sunday and to get those nerves out, to get back into that competitive mode on the last day is something that I would have been grateful for if somebody told me that last week. You know, I didn't win, but I played great. I would have had to play pretty good on the back side to have a chance.
Q. Did anything feel particularly rusty on Sunday in terms of just being back in contention?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, it was kind of not nerve wracking or anything, but just you get to feel those emotions, you know, the first couple of holes and the last couple of holes, you get to feel that pressure sense, and you know, I haven't felt that for a really long time. And to get that right back in your first tournament back was kind of a wake up call in a sense. But taking it into next week I feel a little bit more prepared. I got that rust brushed off a bit. But you know, it was a good tournament. I hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of good putts.
Q. Is there anything that you can do between now and then to shake off the rust given the fact that you're probably going to want to rest a little bit?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah.
Q. You can't practice very much?
PAULA CREAMER: No. No. Tomorrow I might putt a little bit and chip. I won't hit or anything. I'll wait for Tuesday to play in the Pro Am, and we'll see on Wednesday. But you know, it just gets a little bit stronger every day. Today was tough because we had that side wind pretty much the whole Back 9, and that's my favorite shot is that kind of hold off, hold it against the wind shot. And I just could never do it, and with me missing it left all day was not the two that you want to put together. But hopefully that kind of stuff comes back, those little 7 irons, little 8 irons where you have to take a bunch of yardage off is tough for me, and that's something that I'm going to start working on more and more on the range when I'm out there.
Q. Is it good that it's a three round tournament?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah.
Q. You can sort of progress and see?
PAULA CREAMER: For me, definitely. My thumb is, it's feeling it. It's tired. This is a lot of golf for me that I haven't been able to do, and that's why we're out here, to know what I have to do. I have to kind of overcome this whole thing and take it tournament by tournament. And you know, going into next week, gees, I mean I feel pretty good considering what's happened. I mean I can only take confidence away from this week going into a major.
Q. What does it say about your athleticism and your tenacity and your game that you were able to sort of change things and still compete, and do you take anything from that going forward? Do you simplify when you're perfectly healthy?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, it's definitely you're going to have to I'm going to have to reevaluate a lot of things. You know, you look back on my wins and things like that, and you know, you see why it happened, and this week I didn't win, but I kind of overcame a lot of things in my mind. And being able to play within myself and tell myself, no, you can't hit a knock down or you're just going to have to hit two more clubs and trust it, that's kind of overcoming a lot more than what you would normally do on a driving range or even winning a tournament in a sense because I had no expectations. I mean I was just coming out here, seeing what was going to happen, and I came away in my mind a winner myself.
Q. When you left back in February, Lorena was No. 1 player in the world. The landscape has kind of changed a lot.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah.
Q. And now obviously Ai. What are your thoughts on Ai and how she's kind of changed her whole game?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, Ai is not only one of the greatest golfers out here, but she is such a good person. Japan should be so proud because she represents her country to the highest level. And you know, I know Ai really well. She's a good friend of mine, so to see her succeed, and when she went through that rough patch a couple years ago, it's amazing how she's totally overcome all of that. It's funny we were talking about it the other day she misses a cut and wins a tournament. You know, it's like what are you doing, girl? I mean, but it's confidence, and that's all golf is is so much confidence and believing in yourself, and being put in that situation time and time again, and that's what she's been giving herself is that chance to win and she's been doing it on Sunday.
Q. What was her answer when you asked her what are you doing, girl?
PAULA CREAMER: No, she's just so cute. You know Ai, she just kind of laughs and says, oh, Paula, that kind of thing.
Q. Good going out there today.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Thanks. Nice way to finish the week.
Q. I get the feeling that as well as you played, that you could have even gone lower.
KARRIE WEBB: Yes and no. I mean I played pretty solidly today, made some good putts. Actually, the keys were probably making some of those par putts to keep the momentum going during the round.
Q. Does your mindset change when you're going into the final round of the tournament a little bit behind?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I think you sort of free up, which is the way you should be the whole week, but you know you've got nothing to lose on the last day and you just try to go out there and be a bit more relaxed and see what you can do.
Q. A little more aggressive or no?
KARRIE WEBB: No, probably just not playing with less fear, I guess.
Q. Does that kind of explain the last two weeks? I mean last week you finished with a 65, now 64?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Last week, though, I was on the wrong half of the draw, and we got a lot of wind on Friday afternoon. I didn't finish my round off as well there, but you know, the scores were just unbelievably low through two rounds. I had a great weekend last weekend as well, but this weekend, the first two days I didn't play well at all, and today I did a lot of good things, which is good to see for next week.
Q. What was the difference?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, probably just the momentum putts, like I said. You know, I made my fair share of mistakes today like I did the last couple of days, but I didn't make a bogey, so it's you know, the course is giving out pretty low scores and you don't really want to fall back with a bogey, so the fact that I didn't do that today kept the momentum going, so I didn't feel like I was constantly trying to make up for mistakes.
Q. Did the course play that much different today as it did the first couple of days?
KARRIE WEBB: It played pretty similar to all week. I think it's dried out a little bit more; the fairways are running, but I think the tricky thing is trying to work out where the wind is coming because a lot of the holes are cross wind, so it's trying to work out if it's helping you or hurting you because it sort of switches back and forth during the day.
Q. Do you like this course, this event?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I do. I like it.
Q. I remember a couple of years ago you played really well in the last round, too, shot a 64 or 63 or something.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Yeah. I don't think I've ever had a chance to win here, but I've always played fairly well. Next year I'll hopefully get into contention and see if I can do it on Sunday again.